Friday, April 1, 2016


As If – S/T Cassette (Shake!)
With As If, psych isn’t just short for psychedelic it’s also short for psychosis.  Oh there are some psychedelics thrown in there, but mostly dropped all on the tongue of the lead singer.  The music reminds me of Mudhoney but the vocals ain’t like Mark Arm.  This guy sounds like someone alone, writhing on the floor with severe intestinal  pain, screaming for help in the wilderness. The vocals are snotty, ferocious, scheming and anxious all at once.  I can hear some Killed By Death style influences in here as well, like some Chile Molesters type pandemonium.  Whether you want to call this Psychedelic Grind Grunge or maybe Dirty Doom Punk, one thing is for sure you can never call As If boring and in this day and age that’s saying quite a bit.  – J Castro   

Bazooka – Useless Generation LP (Slovenly/Mondo Mongo)
The cover features a disemboweled teddy bear which I find completely offensive, rest assured PETA will be notified.  Now on to the music, which happened to be much on the full throttle radness side.  It’s got some bulldozer guitar licks, the vocals are shouted out in sheer desperation and there’s a thick cloud of post punk Wire-esq panic looming all around this record.  The LP is very well put together and coherent though, this isn’t a slab of lazy slop punk.   And I’m not sure if I mentioned the whole thing is sung in Greek, because well, that’s where the band is from.  Bazooka the band most definitely lives up to its namesake: They’re loud, violent, and I am betting they’re spectacular to watch getting fired off!  - J Castro   

Blodad Tand – Control Alt Delete 7” (Dirt Cult)
Terrific steel bat swinging punk from our pals at Dirt Cult.  Once again, you never know what you’re going to get from the Dirt Cult clan and that’s a really great thing!  This time around they’re dipping their hands into the Swedish Hardcore bucket.  Blodad Tand (“Appetite Whetted” in English according to Google Translate) aren’t metal-y though.  This is some stripped down hard punk with plenty of magnetism all sung in Swedish, luckily charisma is an international language.  This reminds me more of Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes at their hardest as opposed to Anti Cimex or Mob 47 which is what I usually think of when someone says Swedish Hardcore.  Blodad Tand are a phenomenal band and this is an amazing record!  Let’s hope they make it stateside sometime soon! – J Castro 

The Brawlers – Romantic Errors of Our Youth LP (Alcopop)
The Brawlers straddle the short brick wall between pop punk and indie rock but with a grunge grout holding it all up. I think it’s the mid-tempo bass heavy tracks that make me think that.  They kind of land somewhere between Blink 182, The Toadies and the Foo Fighters.  No they’re not the most original sounding band, but who cares.  Not every band is meant to reinvent the wheel.  The thing that stood out on this record to me were the lyrics, but not in a good way.  They’re a bit clumsy and infantile but the more I listened to this album, the more it kind of added to its charm.  I mean, even Paul Westerberg was no master wordsmith in the very early days.  A decent record from a band that’s shooting for the stars.  – J Castro  

Chestnut Road – S/T LP (Brassneck)
This Toulouse, France trio play some straight forward emo-esq punk with some angular riffs thrown it to keep you on your toes and your eye balls peeled wide.  The band’s Bandcamp page lists Husker Du and Leatherface as influences, I can certainly see that running amok on this record.  The songs on here get slow and low sometimes and when they do, I’m reminded of something like J Church meets Get Up Kids crossed with Dear You era Jawbreaker.  I think of this I suppose because when the tempo is brought down, the vocals remain strong but there’s still so much going on in the background with the guitars.  With this Emo revival thing that seems to be popping up all around, Chestnut Road should be one of the bands spearheading the movement.   - J Castro

Death Kart – S/T cassette (Shake!)
This is Death Kart’s debut cassette on Shake!  This Canadian band offers up an interesting take on the whole Jesus and Mary Chain, Stone Roses, sound but these guys add a little early Cure to their repertoire on their self-titled 7 song tape. The beats are strong and echo-y, the guitars are strung tight and hung in a cloud of distortion.  The vocals are delivered in a droning Ian Curtis manner that commands attention and puts them front and center in all of the songs that include them.  The band calls themselves “slacker pop” but I feel that is done in modesty, there is certainly much more going on here.  To simply dismiss them with such simple adjectives describing what’s on this enchanting cassette would be an injustice. -    J Castro

Defect Defect – My Life is Like Death 7” (Dirt Cult)
This here record marks the final Defect Defect release.  Apparently this Portland OR outfit recorded these songs for a Japanese tour before calling it quitsville.  I have never heard this band but seen the name before, and I’m sorry I didn’t discover them while they were still around.  The title track reminds me of early Southern California Hardcore.  More specifically like TSOL’s Jack Grisham fronting the Circle Jerks back in the glory days.  The last two songs throw in some post punk influence into the mix without losing any of the energy, which is no easy thing to accomplish.  It’s always a shame to lose a great band, but I if you want to talk about bowing out on a high note, this is a prime example.  – J Castro   

The Dirtiest – Alarm 7” (Slovenly/Black Gladiator)
This Italian duo crank out some loud, murky broken blues/sonic soul with heavy guitar riffs and a whole lot of sweat and strut.  The first song is all that I mentioned above with a little bit of Psych thrown in at the end, makes you feel like you fell off in the tunnel during the Willy Wonka boat ride.  The B-Side tosses a bit more Psyche but still on the melodic side like Brian Jonestown Massacre.  It’s got a rump shaking tambourine you can imagine slapping the hips of some dude in oversized sunglasses and brown leather pants or that of a caged Go-Go dance’s skin tight mini skirt.  The songs are wild, guitars are set to maximum fuzz, amps blown out, and the drum heads sound bashed in; just the way we love it!   – J Castro   

Durban Poison – Lemons 10” (Shake!)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the mighty Durban Poison.  I believe since the fearsome Thunderwolf full length was released from its mystical prison a few years ago.  If you aren’t familiar with this Victoria, British Colombia band you best quickly get acquainted.  Short, tough, hard hitting punk rock blasts with ‘77 swagger and early 80’s power.  The vocals are in your face while the guitars are kicking you in the crotch and you don’t even want to know where the drum sticks are going!  If you go bats for bands like The Ills, Midnite Snaxxx or Neighborhood Brats you’re going to dig Durban Poison in a big giant way.  Besides it’s got members of Nervous Talk, The Jolts and other Canadian super stars.  How can you go wrong!?  - J Castro   

The Ex-Boyfriends – Deli Oriental Meat Style & Food cassette (Shake!)
Within the first few seconds of this tape, this band kicks in the doors with fingers on the trigger, knives sharpened, and the taste for blood in their mouths.  They intend to leave no one left alive in the room, and if you listen to this tape right, there won’t be.  Loud, grungy, ferocious rock punk that hearken back to the earlier days of Sub-Pop records like Nirvana, Mudhoney, Supersuckers, Green River, etc.   In fact, add a little Detroit muscle like MC5 and some Stooges and this band sounds like a pretty good mixture of all those bands I mentioned earlier chewed up together and vomited back up all over your new car’s floor.  The Ex-Boyfriends are rude, loud, and I’m pretty sure they smell a little, but I’m positive they don’t care what you think!  - J Castro

Girlfriend – Lovers & Other Strangers cassette (Shake!)
Victoria, British Columbia’s Girlfriend play simple, steady, delicate, and consistently great “romance rock/passion pop”.   I think the picture is starting to come into focus by now huh?    Some of the tunes on this 5 song tape remind be of bands like Cub or Tiger Trap in their simplicity but with a guy singing. The kind of stuff that used to be called “cuddlecore” back in the 90’s.  Mix that with a bit more romanticism like later Echo and The Bunnymen and Psychedelic Furs had.  Try to imagine The Softies being fronted by Magnetic Field’s singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt and you will get a a bit better of a mental picture of the arena in which Girlfriend performs in.   It’s a good place to be.  
- J Castro

Gooch Palms – Novo LP (Surfin Ki)
Intriguing record by this Australian guy/gal duo now living in Los Angeles.  This record originally came out in 2013 on Anti-Fade Records but has since been repressed on cassette by the Burger boys and now we have here the Euro version put out by our friends at Surfin Ki.  Gooch Palms create some scrappy, minimalist punchy rock.  I hear scraps of Roxy Music, The Adverts and a smidge of The Fall that’s being played on stage held up by Ramones records.  Their music is incredibly engaging and boasts some, albeit extremely simplistic yet inescapable steel hooks.  Gooch Palms are the kind of band that steps on to a festival stage early and maybe they don’t look too formidable but end up owning the entire event.    – J Castro  

Hansmole – Comfort Cassette (Shake!)
This is the second Shake! release we’ve reviewed by Victoria, British Colombia’s Hansmole, the first being 2014’s Whitest Whiteness and this picks up right where that one left off.   This project is the effort of artist/musician Hannah van Adrichem.  Every time I hear the name it reminds me of Hans Moleman from The Simpsons.  I’m not sure if that’s where she got it from, probably not but it would be cool if it was.  Anyway, the music on this tape consists of soft electro beats served in a Chill Wave fashion, only a bit more haunting and with more gravitas.   Hannah’s voice lays down on a still sea of synths and lets it gently, sometimes jarringly take her to the farthest corners of her mind and she grabs your hand and takes you along with her.   – J Castro  

Liquid Breakfast – Let It Be 77 Again 7” (Still Unbeatable)
I expected this to be a blazing Sex Pistols/Damned snotty riff fest that would make me bust out my studded leather jacket and start pogoing right there in the middle of the room.  But what I got was a tender love ballad on the A-Side which actually made me a little sad.  The next song picked it up a bit with a song called “We Won’t Do It No More” that’s reminiscent of later Jam stuff .  The band list The Beat, The Boys and The Stiffs as influences.  I don’t hear much of that on this record.  What it does sound like is a bunch of guys that listened to that stuff in their youth but are now a bit older, a bit wiser and have let other influences into their musical repertoire along the way.   Nothing wrong with that mind you, just not what I was expecting – J Castro   

Malos Modales – Cronicas Terrestres EP (Drunken Sailor)
Wow, what a fantastic record!  And I’m not just saying that because they’re Mexican like yours truly. This EP really does rock like nobody’s business.  First off, it’s entirely sung in Spanish of course, just thought I should mention that.  Malos Modales (Bad Manners in English) blast out some killer, heart felt, high energy pop punk.  Reminds me of Snuff/Guns N’ Wankers with its earnestness but with a bit more dynamite behind it.  Production is great, nothing is left behind or drowned out.   I highly recommend you pick this record up, and do it quickly before America’s patriots elect Donald Trump and they build that big tall wall with Dragons and Terminators patrolling it, then Malos Modales will be lost to America forever and they'd probably be bettor off at that point.   - J Castro

Marvelous Mark – Crushin’ LP (Drunken Sailor)
Now we get a full length from former Marvelous Darlings Marvelous Mark.  Summer is almost here and Marvelous Mark is already reserving your spot at the beach, rolling out the blanket and setting up the umbrella.  This LP is packed with really sunny, melodic, mid-tempo tunes drenched in reverb.  I compared Mark’s last EP to Weezer, he probably didn’t enjoy that much, but I still hear that here.  Let me be a bit more specific.  I mean first two albums Weezer, when they used to write good songs with loud pop punk guitars and Beach Boy harmonies.  Try to imagine what Weezer’s or Phantom Planet’s first records would sound like coated in Psycho Candy like fuzz and you get a faint idea of what you’re in for with this LP.   - J Castro

Night Birds – Mutiny At Muscle Beach LP (Fat Wreck Chords)
Night Birds do 1983 better than that tired old decade itself ever did.  The album unloads with the blazing track “I’m Wired” which the band has a video for and it makes me feel like I’m in Jr High all over again.  This band takes early 80’s DC Hardcore and bangs it together with Southern California Skate Punk from that same era to create a brand of punk rock with uncharted levels of energy.  Fun, simple, angry, unpretentious punk rock.  As easy as that recipe sounds, it’s a rare commodity these days.  Sometimes I don’t want to hear music that tells me about all the ills of the world, I know what they all are.  I want to hear music that’s just generally pissed off  and charged up, and Night Birds deliver!   - J Castro

Pears – Letters to Memaw 7” (Fat Wreck Chords)
Ahhhh, what a nice record title.  Everyone knows there’s "a special bond between a boy and his Memaw!"  Pears conjure up the sound that I hear in my head when anyone says Fat Wreck Chords.  They’ve got thick melodic guitars and soaring anthemic choruses.  Two things that set Pears apart from the pack is one, they’re a bit more pissed off than a lot of their label mates.  Not Propagandhi pissed off, but at times they come close with those crazy demon rising from the pits of hell type vocals.  And two, they’re from New Orleans, not a place that’s known for this style of music, which puts them in a unique place.  They’re not influenced by anyone that’s doing anything similar around them.   Now THIS is a Fat Wreck Chords record!   - J Castro

Scraper – Misery LP (Slovenly)
Anger, chutzpah soaked punk Rock n’ Roll;  that’s what Scraper drops straight on your face, repeatedly until all the holes swell shut.  Imagine a wrecking ball swinging around wildly in a crowded down town square because the guy operating the crane drowned his sorrows in a bottle of cheap whiskey and is now recreating inside the drivers seat,  the fight he lost with his best friend after he found him in bed with his long time lady friend earlier that day.  That’s the feeling you get when you listen to this album.   These guys know pain, loss, humiliation but it doesn’t mean they have to like it.  And it doesn’t mean they’re going to forget about it.  The song “Trash Can” is an absolute The Saints/Radio Birdman sounding classic to get your rage on.  - J Castro

The Sun Days – S/T LP (Run for Cover)
I looked at a picture of this band prior to listening to the record and I saw one guy that looks like a Gish era Smashing Pumpkins member, another looking like one of the Stone Roses, an East Bay Punk complete with hoodie and nose ring, another kid dressed in all black radiating a total Joy Division vibe, and a girl that looks like she should be walking a run way somewhere in Italy or France.  So in other words, I thought it was going to be a total incoherent soup of influences that wasn’t going to amount to much, but I was wrong.  This Swedish 5 piece play a stunning brand of Jangle Pop/Shoegaze.  The kind that can somehow seem gloomy yet happy at once.   They remind me of that old UK band called The Sundays with some Smiths along with  newer stuff like Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  Brilliant debut record from this band.   – J Castro   

Switches – All My Darlings cassette (Shake!)
Tara, the Switches lead singer, possess one of the most charismatic voices I’ve heard in a very long time.  Some of what immediately came to mind is she’s got Janis Joplin power, The Kills Allison Mosshart’s swagger and a smidge bit of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval warmth and vulnerability.  Now you take this voice and assemble around it some solid yet minimalistic garage rock n’ roll for it to bounce around in, and you’ve got a winning combo.  I listened to everything else I could get my hands on from this band, and although I’ve liked it all, it seems like Switches are finally starting to find their sure footing with not only this stunning EP but also with 2014’s brilliant I Just Wanna LP.  Jump on the Switches bandwagon now before it just kicks dust in your face.    - J Castro

The Thingz – Troubles Begin 12” EP (Coffee Addict)
Slowly levitating from the eroding underbelly of Los Angeles comes the latest effort from these garage rock demons.  Every couple of years when rock n roll seems to be going awry, the dark one summons The Thingz from their meditative slumber to set matters right.  Troubles Begin is called an EP but it’s packed with 7 songs of aggressive, macabre, 1960’s style garage rock.  If Bruce Campbell somehow coerced those demons that were chasing him around in Evil Dead to stop being so darn negative and form a band and if they all found a stash of old Monks, Seeds, and Sonics records in that cabin, I feel their musical effort would sound a lot like The Thingz.   This band is dark, fun and memorable, kind of like your favorite Adams Family episode.  - J Castro

Turkish Techno – Number Two LP (Dirt Cult)
Apparently it took this band 5 years to record this, their second LP aptly titled Number Two, or is that referring to the bathroom kiddie code.  I don’t know but the record is pressed on 100 copies of “poop” colored vinyl, if that reveals anything.  This Riverside CA band play the strictest definition of Pop Punk; fast, ultra-melodic tunes with thick guitars, big drums with shout along choruses.  Song titles include “I’m Not Sorry”, “Work and Die”, and “DUI”.   Great record that’s very well executed by the band, the production is tuned up just right for this type of stuff.  I love how bands like The Copyrights, Teenage Bottle Rocket, and Masked Intruder have kept this kind of music relevant since the mid 1990’s.  Turkish Techno adds to that elite group of great bands.   – J Castro   

Turnspit – I Wonder If They’re Happy EP (Self Released)
Organic, roots-y type punk like Lucero or Gaslight Anthem is the first thing I thought of when I started listening to this record.  The record itself sounds fantstic, and the band plays and sings with a good amount of passion.  The band has two singers, one male and one female, which is kind of cool to hear in a genre of music that is usually dominated by brooding bearded men in flannels.  The only thing I think is odd is the album cover.  I don’t know if there’s an irony or a concept I’m missing but this thing looks like it could be the cover to a lost Ratt or Dokken record back in 1985.  Other than that, a good solid effort from this Chicago band.  Once again, I’m really surprised at the amount of fantastic self-released records floating around out there.   - J Castro

Various Artists – Shake Sampler IV cassette (Shake!)
If you’re a regular reader of ours (and we sure appreciate it if you are) you will know that without fail, every batch of our reviews contains a number of Shake! Records releases.  That’s because the wonderful people at Shake! with their impeccable taste, release a number of limited edition cassettes from fantastic bands from all around the world. In this, their 4th compilation of their work, includes ultra-catchy 60’s influenced rock of the Betrayers, Painted Fruits, stellar Ramones-y punk rock of Mandates, Nervous Talk and The Real Sickies, the stunning shoegaze of Crystal Eyes plus throw in some post punk, indie rock, chaotic noise bashing and everything in between!  You get it all on this stunning 23 song sampler!   - J Castro 

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